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Florida State, Georgia injuries could complicate picture with Justin Fields
The consequences to the season-ending injury of Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois in the Seminoles’ 24-7 season-opening loss to Alabama on Saturday could extend well beyond the field.
Specifically, Florida State is one of the prime contenders for the top overall prospect in the 2018 cycle, quarterback Justin Fields.
Auburn, Georgia and USC are among the other programs in the mix with the former Penn State commitment who carries a 5-star rating in the 247Sports composite.
However, as evidenced by Fields’ 247Sports Crystal Ball page, most observers surmise that the Bulldogs and the Seminoles are the clear leaders for Fields with Auburn and Florida lurking.
With Francois now out for the season, Florida State will turn to true freshman James Blackman to pilot the offense.
To complicate things even more for Fields, Georgia starter Jacob Eason was also injured in the Bulldogs’ season-opening win against Appalachian State. While Eason’s injury isn’t as severe as Francois’, the Bulldogs starter will miss the Notre Dame game this weekend … at least. Georgia will turn the reins of its offense over to true freshman Jake Fromm.
So how does that impact Fields?
At FSU 🍢🍢
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) July 20, 2017
It’s safe to say that the future of the position at both Florida State and Georgia looks quite differently than it did a week ago.
DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell wrote a great breakdown of the situation illustrating the dilemma from each school’s perspective.
From Florida State’s side of things, there’s a few ways the season can go and each scenario is likely to paint a different picture of how the future will potentially look in Tallahassee at the quarterback position.
As Chris Nee of Noles247 points out, coach Jimbo Fisher was very high on Blackman before the season and was excited about his performance during fall camp.
If Blackman takes advantage of the opportunity and plays well this season — a tall yet feasible task considering the wealth of talent surrounding him — the Seminoles will have two proven quarterbacks competing for the job next year assuming Francois returns to health. At the very least, Blackman has a chance to assert himself as the potential quarterback of the future in Tallahassee.
If he struggles, which is also possible given the Seminoles’ tough schedule ahead and the fact that he was in high school at this time a year ago, Florida State will likely fall short of the high expectations it carried into the season. In that case, Francois — who would be a fourth-year junior next fall — could return as the starter with Fields potentially coming in behind him to take over as the face of the program once he departs.
Of course, those are two cut-and-dry scenarios and, as we saw last weekend, things in football often can — and do — change in a hurry. So while the potential 2018 depth chart looks different at each of his contenders, that is just one of many factors Fields will ultimately consider.
Regardless of how the season plays out, another huge part of Florida State’s pitch to Fields will continue to be Fisher’s track record of developing and grooming elite quarterbacks. He’s produced three first-round NFL draft choices during his tenure in Tallahassee and his teams have averaged nearly 465 yards of total offense per game the last five years. In terms of consistency and his hands-on tutelage with quarterbacks, Fisher has a résumé that may be strong enough on its own to lure any elite quarterback.
If he’s able to turn Blackman into a serviceable or better player in the span of a few months, perhaps it’s a signal to Fields that Fisher is the perfect coach to help him reach his massive potential at the next level.
It’s not like the recruitment of Fields needed any more intrigue, but it certainly got it — even if it wasn’t anticipated. And now the focus on Tallahassee and Rome with be as intense as ever for recruiting observers around the nation.
2019 OL to visit Florida State
Offensive line figures to be another area of need in the 2019 cycle for Florida State, and it’s a position where coach Fisher and his staff will be diligent in evaluating where the top talent around the nation.
One player who appears to be on the Seminoles’ radar is 4-star Princeton (N.J.) Hun School guard Caedan Wallace.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has yet to be offered by the Seminoles, but according to Scout’s Brian Dohn, the No. 7 guard in 2019 is planning to visit Tallahassee in mid-November to take in the Delaware State game.
Among the schools that have already offered Wallace are Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Additionally, schools such as Alabama, Michigan State and Notre Dame are showing interest in Wallace.
It won’t be easy to pull a top offensive line prospect from the Garden State, but it’s far from an impossible task. After all, the Seminoles have landed players such as Myron Rolle and Sean Maguire from New Jersey in years past.
The fact that Wallace is already planning to visit Tallahassee is a signal of the strength of the mutual interest between the parties.
Florida State offers 2019 WR
Florida State already holds a commitment from 4-star receiver and Texas native Jalen Curry in the 2019 cycle.
Last weekend, the Seminoles dipped back into the Lone Star State to offer another talented pass catcher in 4-star receiver Garrett Wilson.
Man Oh Man… just received an offer from Florida State University! #Tribe19 #GoNoles 🍢🍢 pic.twitter.com/8JTbT4hwBz
— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) September 2, 2017
The 6-foot, 178-pound Austin Lake Travis High star currently ranks as the nation’s No. 20 receiver and the No. 114 player overall in the 2019 cycle.
As a sophomore at Lake Travis, Wilson hauled in 53 receptions for 699 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He looks to be on the way to exceeding that level of production this fall. As Brian Perroni of 247Sports detailed, Wilson caught 9 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown in the Cavaliers’ season-opening loss to Judson.
Wilson holds 13 offers at this stage of his recruitment, with programs such as Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Tennessee among the schools that have already tendered him.
With just seven receivers on scholarship this fall, receiver is a big need in the current cycle and figures to remain that way in the 2019 cycle.
It remains to be seen whether or not things heat up between Wilson and the Seminoles. But with Florida State offering him early and with the team’s recent success recruiting in the state of Texas, Wilson figures to be a talented option that the staff keeps tabs on in the immediate future.
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